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Character, so central to eighteenth- and nineteenth-century appreciation of Shakespeare, fell out of favour in the mid twentieth century. This first occurred at the hands of the ‘New Criticism’. L. C. Knights, in ‘How many children had Lady Macbeth?’, was instrumental in the classic shift of critical focus from the life and humanity of the fictional people in Shakespeare’s plays (exemplified by A. C. Bradley)1 to a view of the texts as elaborate poetic forms, to be read for their network of figurative structures and connections rather than for the psychology of their characters.
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